The viral pandemic and last summer’s racial justice protests have thrown a national spotlight on longstanding racial and gender disparities within the U.S. economy, with unemployment rates chronically higher for African Americans and Hispanics, and levels of wealth, income, and homeownership sharply lower.
The wage gap between white and Black Americans has widened in the past 20 years to roughly $33,000 per household, according to the Economic Policy Institute and Pew Research Center, which also predicts that the wealth gap will drain at least a trillion dollars out of the U.S. economy annually over the next decade. That translates into a loss of $2,800 or more for every American.
A Citigroup study found that white households’ net worth grew 43%, to $61,200, between 1995 and 2016, while it remained flat at $35,400 for Black families. The study also found that 44% of Black households owned their homes in 2019, compared with 74% of white households.
The Citigroup study also shows that incarceration rates among Black Americans, voter suppression efforts, and conscious bias in hiring all play a role in hindering the U.S. from making strides in closing the gap.
Bernard E. Anderson, the Whitney M. Young Jr Professor Emeritus at the Wharton School and former assistant secretary for the Employment Standards Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Labor, talked to Penn Today about the economic costs of racism and how it affects all Americans.